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  • Writer's pictureGayle Draper ICHR

The Journey to Account Executive

Navigating Career Change to Business Development Representative

and Securing Multiple Promotions to Account Executive.

A natural and experienced mentor, this fellow was at ease as a relationship builder but with no strategy or defined career path after returning to complete his degree. Leaving a very successful career in the utility industry, he returned to college to complete a BBA full-time while also growing a very young family.

The Challenge from his Perspective

How do I position myself next? What do I want to do with this new education? Am I considered a new grad despite having a successful first career? How do I market myself into the next role and what might that look like? It has been years since I job searched, what has changed? How do I regain my confidence?

Intentional Career and Coaching Conversations

He was referred to me by a previous client and I was excited to work with him. We began with a DISC assessment and received a very comprehensive Career Management report revealing his high IS Style, motivators, and communication strengths and how he manages stress. With a stronger understanding of his soft skills, we then assessed his technical and hard skills.

We also completed the Intentional Careers HR's workbook called ‘My Journey to Work’ to give us deeper and more comprehensive content with RIASIC codes, learning styles, and a hard skills assessment. This confirmed what type of work activities were a natural preference for him.

Exploring the Labour Market and Informational Interviews

Next, we observed the labour market by exploring companies outside of the utility sector. We requested informational interviews to drill down what the occupation is like from people with experience in that field. I am so grateful to my past clients as they are always happy to host informational interviews to garner their own leadership skills, as they empathize with the challenges of transition.

The Learning Plan

Although his post-secondary education was current, he had no formal sales training. We needed to evolve his skills for the resume and for his confidence. We also needed to keep imposter syndrome at bay. We sourced a video sales training program and assessment that fit our budget for time and investment. We focused on building LinkedIn networking skills to find opportunities in the hidden job mark and learn how to reach out to potential customers using this social media platform. The two additional elements were strengthening our exposure to CRMs and digital marketing and we decided to increase the variety of learning by signing up for TrailHead and Hubspot learning portals.

Branding for the Career Niche

With the degree complete, it was time to brand the resume to highlight and emphasize his recent education, address the employment break to attend school full-time, and pivot the resume to target the role of Business Development Representative within the SAAS industry. We developed both a 1-page marketing resume and 2-page skills-based resume highlighting BDR and sales skills that were transferable from past experiences, recent sales training, and his business degree.

As a BDR professional, his LinkedIn profile needed a very specific brand image not just for job search but to evolve and then showcase his relationship-building skills and personality. We wanted a professional, approachable, knowledgeable, and energizing brand.

He began to network at events one-on-one. His knack for relationship building shined and led to interviews. This dipping a toe in the water phase is always telling for me. Do we need to tweak skill sets, the resume, or our elevator pitch? Our chosen path was confirmed with interest from a targeted company and an interview was requested. He didn’t get hired after a few rounds. We were both disappointed and then Covid became an additional challenge for us to conquer.

The Pandemic Affect

As the world fumbled along with the pandemic, daycare closed, and we took many breaks from job searching. This was really tough as we had built such great momentum and then we had to put the brakes on for a summer-long break. This shook our confidence but looking back also built grit and determination. We moved on, waltzing with the pandemic, childcare challenges, and appreciating his supportive spouse.

As a consummate networker and really using LinkedIn as the powerful tool it is, he had conversations and referrals and met a woman that shared her time helping folks in the SAAS marketplace. She introduced us to the next employer.

The Next Chapter

He applied for a BDR role and was interviewed. He was well equipped with SAAS product knowledge and the interview quickly became a conversation. They were recruiting for 3 BDR spots. He shared his DISC style during the conversation and the interviewer had the same style. This helped accelerate the hiring manager's understanding of his natural strengths. He accepted the offer and our coaching has continued as we navigate through onboarding, understanding the role, evolving his leadership skills, and building marketing skills. Eighteen months later we celebrated two promotions and coaching continues.

His Reflections

I asked him to reflect back on what really made a difference.

  • Accountability with the job search strategy.

  • Building my confidence with weekly calls. Yes, career planning and a great resume are necessary, but the weekly calls kept me on track.

  • Continued coaching challenged me when I consider making a move and seemed adrift. Instead, I stayed and received a promotion.

  • A confidential sounding board.

  • Interview coaching.

  • How to reenergize after a break in job search momentum.

  • Having unconditional moral support from a cheerleader with an expert point of view

  • DISC for knowing my job skills, building relationships, and navigating customers.

  • Building and exercising my confidence in both my natural and adaptable skills.

  • Understanding the types of recruiters and their unique roles.

  • The pandemic effects and having a self-care plan.

The Road Trip

When I begin coaching relationships, I define it as a road trip. The people I work with choose the direction and we drive momentum forward together but I am always in the passenger seat with options and suggestions for consideration. They choose the pace and learn how to navigate as I coach them through a unique career transition.

My role as their Career Transition Coach is to challenge them, cheer for them, and sometimes catch them before a stumble. Some people have never driven their career or realized they could. They have idled in the back seat or trunk waiting for a solution to happen without striving for it. My goal is to give driving lessons during our road trip and define a continued career path that is anchored in confidence for the future journey.


Career Stories - A summer series of inspirational career transitions |

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